Best 'Simpsons' Moments: Castmembers Share Their Favorite Contributions to Celebrate the 500th Episode

Behold! The Simpsons' 500th episode is upon us! The show, titled "At Long Last Leave," entails the Simpson family being evicted from Springfield. When Marge and Homer try to sneak back into town, they're shunned by former neighbors and friends. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stars as himself, and Alison Krauss sings a special theme song for the landmark moment. 

With 23 seasons in the making, the show is bound to bring out the super-fan in countless bloggers who will list, dissect, and debate their choices for best episode, greatest musical guest, and most hilarious Homer quotations. Here, artists, writers, and crew (past and present) talked about their favorite personal contributions to our beloved Simpsons (the show, the Movie, even the comics).

The Simpsons airs its 500th episode on Sun., Feb. 19, 8 p.m. on Fox.

David Silverman is an animator, director and producer with The Simpsons since 1987. He also plays the tuba. Fun fact: Silverman gives a lesson for drawing Bart at the end of "Goo Goo Gai Pan."

David's "pivotal contribution" in animating Homer was in the season two episode "Blood Feud," where Homer goes off in a sarcastic rant ("Marge, you're my wife. I love you very much. But you're living in a world of make believe, with flowers and bells and leprechauns and magic frogs with funny little hats"). Silverman knew Homer's moves had to be just right, so he created various appropriate poses. After that, Silverman became the go-to for Homer's "rants, freak-outs, and heart attacks." And yes, the Olmec head in "Blood Feud" was also designed by Silverman. Is it authentic? "I took liberties," he said.

Any Simpsons fan knows Silverman animated "The Land of Chocolate" sequence in the season three episode "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk," but what you might not know is that when Silverman first read the script (in particular, bunnies hopping by and Homer skipping after them) he laughed aloud and thought, "I should really animate this." Because he was only directing one episode that season, he had the time so he asked to do it. "The opening had to be just right," he said.

The ending of "Mother Simpson," while not the most challenging sequence he's animated, is nonetheless the most beautiful. He agrees: "It made me cry," he said. Homer, sitting on the car looking at the stars . . . it still makes me cry.

Dana Gould  is a standup comedian, writer, and actor. Before he worked on The Simpsons for seven years (including providing many voices), Gould exercised his humor on The Ben Stiller Show. Now he writes screenplays, makes short films, and produces a podcast, which you should listen to.  Grab the Dana Gould Hour podcast on iTunes or at It was easy for Dana to pick his favorite contribution to The Simpsons. He said,

I wrote the episode 'Goo Goo Gai Pan,' which told the story of the Simpsons' trip to China to adopt a baby for Marge's sister, Selma. The story was based on our experience adopting our daughter Liu Liu. The design for Selma's baby, Ling, was based on Liu Liu's baby picture. Hard to top that.

Fill Marc Sagadraca was born in Hawaii and grew up defying his parents' wishes to be a doctor by pursuing a career in animation. He graduated from CalArts in Character Animation and attended the UCLA Animation Workshop. He has worked in video games and is currently working on The Simpsons as a character layout artist and as a storyboard artist on Cartoon Network's Generator Rex and the upcoming Ben 10: Omniverse. He consumes an unhealthy amount of pop culture including movies, TV shows, comics, music, and video games. In his free time he snowboards and sleeps. 

One of my favorite personal contributions is the scene I animated in The Simpsons Movie where Plopper runs to Homer when they first meet at the Krusty Burger. I was new at the time and didn't want to disappoint, so I went overboard and studied pig locomotion and hung up Eadweard Muybridge photos like these in my cubicle so I could get it right. Oh to be young and so enthusiastic . . .

Marc Wilmore joined The Simpsons' writing staff in 2000, but was no newbie to TV: He was a writer and performer on In Living Color and writer and performer on The PJs, too, both for the full lengths of their runs. Somewhere in there, Marc also managed to write, produce, and perform on The Tonight Show. But before any of that, Marc was a standup comedian for five years. Fun fact: He listened to Frank Sinatra and Count Basie Live at the Sands before every performance. Because of this ritual, he wore out several cassettes.

Marc's written several episodes (including an upcoming episode with guest star Bryan Cranston), but his favorite contribution is a single joke, Rip Taylor's comeback, that he provided for TOH XIX in the segment "How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising."

Comic Book Guy: Rip Taylor? You're not even dead!

Rip Taylor: Someone needs to check my apartment.

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As a person who has loved the Simpson's since The Tracy Ullman Show, I feel the need to bring up that I was the person who came up with the word 'meh.'  It first came about when a group of friends and I were walking down the beach.  (around '91 or '92)  One of my friend's says to me "what the hell is that on your foot?!?"  I look down and it looks like either oil or feces, so I just replied "meh" and walked down to the ocean to rinse it off.   Anyway, I got enough of a laugh out of that that the word became part of my lexicon and has been ever since. 

So when the Simpson's episode aired with the word, I was giddy.  I went to all of my friend's to show them that the word had actually made it into an actual Simpson's episode.  At the time, they all just blew me off and said they probably got it from somewhere else.  It was only after searches came back saying "The Simpsons" episode made up the word that my friend's had to concede that I had been using it for roughly a decade prior to the airing.


Denise, what a fun insider look at the people who bring The Simpsons to life! It's stunning how much work is involved in creating and sustaining the show -- and how much heart and soul and personal quirkiness goes into it. I love reading about these personal-fave moments. More, please! 

It would also be fun to hear someday about the most misunderstood episodes (e.g., episodes that generated hate mail from groups they expected to love the episode, and fan mail from groups they expected to hate the ep), if that makes any sense. :-)

Denise Du Vernay
Denise Du Vernay

Thanks! It was a lot of fun to collect these stories. I especially like Dana Gould's episode inspired by the experience he and his wife had adopting their daughter from China and David X. Cohen's contribution to the season six episode "Lisa On Ice" (which he didn't "write") based on his childhood fights with his own sister. The second is a prime example of how, although one writer creates the original script, the revisions and the final product are usually very much a collaboration. I like the idea of collecting some more Simpson moments inspired by the writers' personal experiences.

As for the misunderstood/hate mail-generating episodes, there are a few famous examples ("Bart vs. Australia," "The Principal and the Pauper," "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday," etc.) but I'll bet there are more to be gleaned. Great idea!

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